Coyotes Weekly: A Productive Canadian Business Trip

The Arizona Coyotes did what they were supposed to do last week.

On the road, with games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames on the docket, it was thought ahead of time that two of those games were winnable, while one would pose a big challenge for Rick Tocchet’s group.

Turns out, that’s exactly what went down. The ‘Yotes picked up wins over two playoff hopefuls, while being blown out by a Western Conference powerhouse. Let’s take a deeper look at last week’s action:

Coyotes Week in Review

Following their impressive 5-0 beatdown of Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers back on Jan. 6, the Coyotes left the Grand Canyon State and began a three-game Western Canada roadie on Thursday night in Vancouver. Arizona took three separate one-goal leads in regulation, but Vancouver battled back and tied the game with fewer than five minutes remaining in the third period, as Sven Baertschi netted his sixth of the season to force overtime. After another highly entertaining 3-on-3 frame, Richard Panik sent the Coyotes home with a victory with this goal:

The Coyotes then made the trip eastward to Alberta for a Saturday night affair with the Edmonton Oilers. Things have gone swimmingly for Arizona rookie Conor Garland since he was recalled from the AHL earlier this season, but Saturday might have been the most memorable night (so far) of his hockey career. Connor McDavid did what Connor McDavid does and got the Oilers on the board in the first period, but Jordan Oesterle answered with his third of the season just 1:16 into the second period. Less than two minutes later, it was Oesterle again with the puck, and his shot once again found the back of the net, but not before taking a quick detour off of Garland’s face:

Garland left the ice for repairs, but returned later in the game, and, after Edmonton tied it at two, he once again found himself in the right place at the right time. Early into a third-period power play opportunity, a rebound from a Clayton Keller point shot banked off of the end boards and into the net off of Garland’s skates to give Arizona a 3-2 lead, which they were able to hold to earn the win at Rogers Place.

A night after their big win in Edmonton, the Coyotes found themselves in Calgary matched up against the Flames and former Arizona goaltender Mike Smith on Sunday. It became apparent early on that this would not be the Coyotes’ night – Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan combined for two quick goals in the first period, and Matthew Tkachuk added another early in the second period as Calgary picked up an easy 7-1 victory over an Arizona team which was on the second night of a back-to-back.

A Look Ahead

After wrapping up their road trip in Calgary, the Coyotes returned home and will begin a short two-game homestand on Wednesday night against the San Jose Sharks. This will be the third meeting between these division rivals this season, with the road team winning the first two contests. Note the late start – the game will be televised nationally on NBCSN as part of their ‘Wednesday Night Rivalry’ series, and will begin at 8:00 P.M. in Glendale.

The Coyotes will then play their final home game before the All-Star Break on Friday evening, when Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. Arizona will be looking to avoid the season sweep in this one, as they were blanked 4-0 in Pittsburgh back on Nov. 10. However, the Coyotes have played Pittsburgh well on home ice as of late, with three wins and a shootout loss in their last six meetings. This one will get started at 7:00 P.M. at Gila River Arena.

Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby
Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin will make their only visit to Glendale this season on Friday night. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

With their short homestand complete, the Coyotes will head north of the border for three games in four nights starting in Toronto on Sunday. Put simply, the Maple Leafs have been a dominant force in the NHL this season – led by free agent acquisition John Tavares, who paces the team with 29 goals, Toronto is fifth in the league in scoring and is a threat to score five goals almost every night. Toronto does struggle defensively, though, but Coyotes will still have their hands full in this one – it’ll get started at 7:00 P.M. local time in The Six (5:00 P.M. in Arizona).

Matthews Tavares Andersen Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs will present a huge test for the Coyotes on Sunday evening.. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

After visiting Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Coyotes will head north to the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa for a Tuesday night meeting with the Erik Karlsson-less Senators. Ottawa got off to a surprising start this year, as they were at the .500 mark after 25 games despite very low expectations, but their play has dropped off significantly as of late. They’re 2-8-1 in their last 11 and are struggling to keep pucks out of their net, as they’ve allowed four or more goals in eight of those 11 previously mentioned contests. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. local time (5:30 P.M. in Arizona) in Canada’s capital city.

Pacific Division Roundup

We said the same thing in this space last week, but not much has changed this week – the Flames, Sharks, and Vegas Golden Knights are far-and-away the three best teams in the Pacific Division, with a 13-point buffer between them and the fourth-place team, the Oilers.

Anaheim Ducks (19-19-9, 47 points)

  • Last week: 0-2-2 (2-1 OTL vs OTT, 7-4 L vs PIT, 4-3 OTL at WPG, 3-1 L at DET)
  • Analysis: Is it safe to say the Ducks have hit rock bottom after losing for the 12th consecutive time on Tuesday night? Or will things continue to spiral out of control? General manager Bob Murray tried shaking up his roster by trading veteran and long-time Duck Andrew Cogliano to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Devin Shore, but the results were not good in Anaheim’s next game in Detroit, where they lost 3-1 to a struggling Red Wings squad. What’s next in Orange County? More trades? Or perhaps even bigger changes?
  • Player of the week: Andrew Cogliano – Goal, 2 assists, +2
  • This week: Thu at MIN, Sat at NJ, Sun at NYI

Calgary Flames (30-13-4, 64 points)

  • Last week: 3-0-0 (5-3 W vs COL, 4-3 W vs FLA, 7-1 W vs AZ)
  • Analysis: Led by Norris Trophy frontrunner Mark Giordano, the Flames kept on rolling last week, picking up three regulation victories on home ice while scoring 16 goals in the process. The team has been able to outscore their defensive problems so far during the regular season, but will the offense be able to carry this team during the Stanley Cup playoffs in April and May?
  • Player of the week: Mark Giordano – 3 goals, 4 assists, +6
  • This week: Wed vs BUF, Fri vs DET, Sat at EDM, Tue vs CAR
Calgary Flames Mark Giordano Minnesota Wild Devan Dubnyk
Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano is arguably the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy at the moment. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

Edmonton Oilers (22-21-3, 47 points)

  • Last week: 2-1-0 (4-3 SOW vs FLA, 3-2 L vs AZ, 7-2 W vs BUF)
  • Analysis: The Oilers have alternated wins with losses over their last eight games, and they’re struggling to climb up the standings in the Western Conference as a result. The Most Inconsistent Team in the NHL™ has scored seven goals, allowed seven goals, shut out a team by a 4-0 margin, and been shut out by a 4-0 margin, all in the last six games. What will happen next? Who knows, but it always makes for some good, entertaining TV.
  • Player of the week: Connor McDavid – 4 goals, 2 assists, +2
  • This week: Wed at VAN, Sat vs CGY, Sun vs CAR, Tue vs DET

Los Angeles Kings (18-25-4, 40 points)

  • Last week: 1-1-1 (4-1 L vs OTT, 5-2 W vs PIT, 3-2 SOL at MIN)
  • Analysis: The Kings are playing better hockey as of late, as they’re 7-5-2 since Dec. 13, but an 11-20-2 start will likely be too much to overcome for this team. If they could gain some consistency in the offensive zone, things would be much easier – Los Angeles has scored two, five, one, one, four, two, and zero goals in their last seven games, respectively. Offensively, it’s been all or nothing all season in L.A.
  • Player of the week: Jeff Carter – 2 goals, 2 assists
  • This week: Thu at DAL, Sat at COL, Mon vs STL

San Jose Sharks (28-13-7, 63 points)

  • Last week: 3-0-0 (3-2 W at VGK, 4-1 W vs OTT, 5-2 W vs PIT)
  • Analysis: The Sharks, winners of seven straight, are on an absolute tear. They’re 16-3-2 since Dec. 1 and have silenced the doubters who questioned the slow starts of Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns. Both players are rolling right now, and San Jose will be a tough team to beat if their two star D-men can continue producing in the offensive zone.
  • Player of the week: Tomas Hertl – 4 goals, 2 assists, +6
  • This week: Wed at AZ, Sat at TB, Mon at FLA, Tue at WSH
Tomas Hertl Sharks
Tomas Hertl has done a lot of celebrating over the past few games. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Vancouver Canucks (21-21-5, 47 points)

  • Last week: 1-0-1 (4-3 OTL vs AZ, 5-1 W vs FLA)
  • Analysis: After being shut out in their first two games without Elias Pettersson, the Canucks rebounded last week to earn three of four possible points to get back to the .500 mark. In a top-heavy Pacific Division, the wild-card spots likely will be up for grabs all season long. If Pettersson gets back in the lineup soon and continues to produce points at a high rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Canucks nab a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
  • Player of the week: Loui Eriksson – Goal, 2 assists, +3
  • This week: Wed vs EDM, Fri vs BUF, Sun vs CAR

Vegas Golden Knights (28-17-4, 60 points)

  • Last week: 1-2-0 (3-2 L vs SJ, 4-3 OTW at CHI, 4-1 L at WPG)
  • Analysis: The Golden Knights suffered their first regulation losses since Dec. 17 last week, and they saw the Flames and Sharks pass them in the Pacific Division as a result. Vegas’ home record remains one of the best in the league, but they’re just 13-13-1 away from T-Mobile Arena. That could be problematic if they finish at No. 3 in the Pacific and are forced to go on the road in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
  • Player of the week: Brandon Pirri – Goal, 2 assists, 18 shots
  • This week: Sat vs PIT, Mon vs MIN